When you think karaoke, you usually think of a smoky bar near a college campus that has a weekly night where regulars try their best to be the next Jimmy Buffet or Lady Gaga. Beer is the drink of choice, and food options are usually fried.
Jelsomino’s in South Beach is trying to change that, creating an upscale atmosphere that feels like a cross between an energetic lounge and a supper club. Want to sing to the crowd? No problem. Pick your song and submit it to one of several professional singers and dancers. When your name is called, jump on stage and those same singers will join you as you perform to a packed room — some who are seated for dinner or a late night snack.
But the real draw at Jelsomino are the private rooms where groups as small as 8 or as large as 30 can host their own versions of American Idol or the X Factor. Each room is powered by its own karaoke system with over 50,000 songs in English, Spanish, Russian, Italian and Portuguese. To choose your song you must search on an iPad that will provide results and a number for each song. Program the song’s number into the machine, hand out one of two microphones and start singing. The machines allow you to adjust the speed and pitch of the song, if you can’t quite reach those high notes.
Each room at Jelsomino is equipped with two television screens, plush sofa seating, and are themed based on a famous artist (Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Elvis and The Doors). While you sing with your group, professional singers and dancers will pop into your sound proof room every so often to either join in your song or take requests. Servers are available for cocktail orders as well as bottle service, and if you get hungry you can order from a menu by executive chef Mario Roca that includes such choices as Octopus Sashimi ($8), Unagi Nigiri ($9), and Yuca Shrimp Roll (golden fried wrapped shrimp, chayote, guava gelee and emulsified cilantro-garlic; $18). There are also cheese platters, fruit options and caviar pairings with champagne available. Rooms start with a minimum spend of $125 per person with a four-person minimum for a 2-3 hour time allotment.
“It’s a great concept for nightlife and Miami is famous for a great nightlife experience,” said Tatiana Brunetti, founding partner of the Ginza Project that owns Jelsomino’s in Miami and New York. “But it’s all in the hospitality experience: food, service, and atmosphere. It’s not just the karaoke.”
Jelsomino’s Miami, 247 23rd St., Miami Beach; 305-673-7757. Open Thursday-Saturday and Monday from 10 p.m. – 5 a.m.